News, Outdoor Education Center, Scholars Program

Middle School Pen Pals

For the third year in a row, FLOC Scholars in Washington have been pen pals this semesterhello with FLOC Leaders in Action students in West Virginia. These middle schoolers live less than two hours away from one another, but those 70 miles represent a significant difference between the urban environment of DC and the rural environment of Jefferson County. As program wraps up this month in both places, we thought we’d take a look back at the letters these middle school students have written over the last few months and the relationships they’ve formed in the process.

DC Scholars 6th Grade Pen Pals Project (2)

The letters begin with lots of questions:

“What is your school like?”  “What is your favorite thing to do outside?” “What do you want to do when you grow up?” “Who likes Chick-fil-a?” “Do you like to read? Do you like to play? Do you like homework?”

And continue with requested answers:

“When I grow up, I want to be an underwater mechanic.” “My winter break was good. I did watch The Hunger Games. It was good, but it was a bit sad.” “We’ve missed about a week and a half of school because of snow. We went sledding, snowboarding, and shoveled snow.” 

group of letters

They’re chatty, inquisitive, friendly, and colorful, punctuated with drawings and P.S.’s and  jokes. They talk about their favorite foods and TV shows, video games and YouTube stars, Star Wars and Deadpool and Alvin and the Chipmunks, winter break snow and spring break plans. They shatter misconceptions (No, the West Virginians don’t live in barns. Yes, there are places to sled in DC.) There’s even a little touch of election politics conversation.

WV LIA Charles Town Middle School Pen Pal Project

Most of all, it’s clear that for all these students live in different communities, they have a lot more in common than not. It’s also clear that friendships are blossoming via their writing.

“It has been a good experience to communicate with you… I hope to see you in summer camp.”

SAP-8811

(Elizabeth Metz is the Recruitment and Outreach Manager at FLOC.)

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Scholars Program, Student Spotlight

Meet Lisbeth, a 12th Grade Scholar

Lisbeth Moreno.jpgLisbeth is a senior at Woodrow Wilson High School, and has been in the FLOC Scholars program since the beginning of her junior year.
This fall she will be a freshman at George Mason University, her top choice, where she plans to major in Government and International Politics.

Each FLOC senior is matched with a postsecondary coach who guides them through the college application process. Lisbeth and her coach Jazmin are certainly a great match! “I think FLOC did a great job pairing us,” Lisbeth said smiling. “Jazmin and I have similar interests and backgrounds; she’s also Latina and came to FLOC as a student, she studied International Affairs at Tufts, and we laugh at the same things.” Lisbeth also said that she has appreciated how Jazmin encouraged her to stay on top of her college and scholarship applications this year.

Lisbeth has many wonderful FLOC memories. The SAT prep that FLOC provided during her 11th grade year helped to increase her scores in all three sections—math, reading, and writing. “I learned new vocabulary, of course, but I also learned how to think through test answers when I came across words or phrases I was unfamiliar with,” she said. During her junior year of high school, Lisbeth went on a spring break college tour with FLOC. “We visited UNC Greensboro, Radford, and VCU, which were three of the schools I applied to,” she recollected. The college tour not only proved helpful in the college decision process itself, but also provided Lisbeth with an opportunity to make lasting friendships with other FLOC students.

Students with mascot

With graduation just around the corner, Lisbeth is excited for college and all of the new opportunities that come with it.

(Samantha Bailey is the Bilingual Recruitment and Outreach Coordinator at FLOC.)

Neighborhood Tutoring Program, News, Student Spotlight

Selfies for Math Success

The Thursday night math program at Jubilee has very energetic and curious students. This past Thursday, dynamic duo Denim and Tawanda shared with me how they came to be best friends and what they love most about FLOC. Both students are first graders working on Unit 1 in our math curriculum. They are also paired with two tutors who also happen to be friends with each other, volunteering at FLOC together. In exchange for this interview I allowed them take selfies on the FLOC cell phone:

denimI love coming to FLOC with Tawanda. We get to talk to our tutors, play math games, and have snacks. Our tutors also let us dance together during break. I dance better than Tawanda! ” -Denim, 1st grader
tawanda“Denim and I are best friends. We have sleepovers and play Michael Jackson and sing and dance. At FLOC we race each other doing math worksheets and then our tutors let us dance.” -Tawanda, 1st grader

(Felise Ortiz is an NTP site coordinator and the supervisor of the Thursday night math program at Jubilee Housing.)

Neighborhood Tutoring Program, News

Spring Successes in Saturday Reading

Spring is definitely a busy time here at FLOC. Within the past couple of weeks, we’ve had several new students and tutors start during our Saturday PM Reading Program. Students are starting and finishing new chapter books each week. This past week, Maniyah and her tutor finished reading The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. Additionally, I’ve been impressed by how much our students have been testing. Testing is one of the ways FLOC sees that a student understands the material and can move onto more challenging concepts. Our last two reading sessions, our testing list has been two solid pages. During our last tutoring session, our testers gave a total of 31 tests!

Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 5.11.46 PM

We had a friendly competition start between two of our middle school students, Gabriel and Nata, in the reading program. Gabriel and Nata (6th and 8th graders, respectively) were working together on their Wilson lessons, until we could find a sub for Nata. Gabriel passed his test with flying colors and so Nata and Gabriel parted ways. In the true spirit of competition, Nata wanted to test and be on the same lesson as Gabriel. Nata passed the test and wanted to test again in order to be farther in the curriculum. Nata passed a total of 3 Wilson tests in one day, while Gabriel found a new way to practice using his vocabulary words—by writing a letter trash-talking Nata. This playful competition challenged Gabriel to think about the multiple meanings of his vocabulary words and how to use them most effectively.

(Tamarae Hildebrandt is an NTP site coordinator for the Saturday Afternoon Reading program.)

News

11th Grade Scholars Spend Spring Break on Annual College Tour

Rosa, an 11th grade Scholar, enjoys some complimentary cotton candy at UPitt.
Rosa, an 11th grade Scholar, enjoys some complimentary cotton candy at UPitt.

Fifteen FLOC 11th grade Scholars took advantage of their week off from school to join myself and two other FLOC staff members on a five-day college tour. During the week, we visited six schools and traveled through five states.

Our first stop was Pittsburgh where we visited the University of Pittsburgh (UPitt) and the Community College of Allegheny County. For some students, this was their first opportunity to spend substantial time on a college campus. We had a great time in Pittsburgh and were able to enjoy some of the campus festivities happening on UPitt’s campus during our visit.

Pennsylvania State University at Altoona was our next stop. Despite the drizzle, we had definitive backwards-walking tour guides who shared their love for Penn State Altoona with our students. Students asked a lot of questions and loved seeing the contrast between a very large school, UPitt, and a smaller school, Penn State Altoona.  We broke up our drive by stopping by the main Pennsylvania State University campus in University Park to enjoy ice cream from the on-campus creamery before traveling to Syracuse, New York.

One tour group of students with their St. Joseph’s University guide.
One tour group of students with their St. Joseph’s University guide.

After a run in with a sudden April blizzard, we awoke to fresh snow in Syracuse which luckily melted as the sun joined us out on our tour of Syracuse University. Students enjoyed seeing the indoor stadium and hearing about the on-campus flight simulator. Once we were done comparing the food at Syracuse with our previous cafeteria visits, we headed to Philadelphia just in time to attend a Phillies baseball game.  We spent the evening cheering on the home team and ended our trip by visiting the beautiful St. Joseph’s University (SJU), where we heard all about Hawk Basketball and voted SJU as having the “best cafeteria food” of our trip by a landslide.

Students enjoy a chilly Phillies Game.
Students enjoy a chilly Phillies Game.

At all of the colleges we visited students asked a lot of questions, ate in the on-campus dining halls and gained knowledge about different types of post-secondary institutions. I was impressed with the information our students retained about each campus visit and appreciated hearing the progression in the complexity of their questions as the week passed and we visited more schools.

This week also gave me the opportunity to witness friendships blossom between our students and get to know them outside of the FLOC building. When the time comes for these 11th graders to begin applying to colleges next fall, FLOC’s high school class of 2015 will know what to look for when deciding what colleges might be right for them. I am excited for the roller-coaster year that awaits them!


Test your knowledge of some of the schools we visited with trivia we learned on our tours!

1. Which college that we visited is Bob Costas an alumnus of? What international event does he take undergraduates from this university to every two years?

2. What two Pennsylvania counties does St. Joseph’s University span across?

3. What is the capacity at Pennsylvania State University’s main campus stadium, Beaver Stadium?

4. On which campus that we visited are ducks federally protected?

5. At what college was a famous children’s TV show (involving sweaters!) filmed at? What is the name of the TV show?

Answers: 1. Syracuse; the Olympics 2. Philadelphia and Montgomery  3. 107,282    4.  Penn State University – Altoona   5. UPitt; Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.

(Lauren Ballinger is a Scholars Program Instructor at FLOC).

News, Scholars Program, Student Spotlight

Meet Tewabech: A Self-Determined and Artistic Scholar at FLOC

Tewabech

Upon first interaction, Tewabech doesn’t strike you as a typical high school student. She’s reading George Orwell’s 1984 a second time for fun – this time outside of class to get more meaning out if it. If for some reason you needed ceramic carving tools, Tewabech could pull hers out of her backpack for you to borrow.

Tewabech is currently an 11th grader at arts-magnet high school Duke Ellington and this is her fourth year partaking in FLOC programming. Although her school lets out later than most, she makes the effort to come to FLOC each Wednesday for SAT prep.

She is a talented artist who is also passionate about science.  We witnessed her eyes light up as she learned of the Smithsonian’s prestigious summer internship opportunity called the Youth Engagement through Science (YES!) program. She was diligent and determined in completing her application and we wish her the best of luck.

Not only does Tewabech take her academics seriously, but she also places strong value on her relationship with teachers at school and staff members at FLOC. She is articulate in conversation and possesses maturity beyond her 17 years.  She emphasizes the importance of her family, and serves as a great role model for her younger sister, who she picks up every Monday from the Middle School Scholars Program.

Tewabech2

FLOC staff members unanimously agree that Tewabech has a bright future.  As a 10th grade student in the Scholars Program last year, she combined her drawing skills and her ambitious dreams to create an exemplary “10 Year Plan.”

Tewabech1

Tewabech wrote about getting good grades and building strong friendships in high school, and envisioned herself extending her college-going years to attend medical school and become an anesthesiologist.  She planned to never lose sight of her passion for art, and when making her budget for life after college, she recognized the importance of both saving and spending smart.

(Lauren Ballinger is a Scholars Program Instructor at FLOC).